Taking Care of Your Snowboard – Basic Kit & Iron Selection
As you wax more and learn from those around you, you can eventually expand you kit to over those things that are less likely to occur, but also require more skill to perform. But for this post, we are going to start with what do you need in a basic kit and will discuss in future posts about other possible upgrades.
There are several companies out there that make decent kits: Toko, Swix, Demon, Dakine, Oneball, etc. I myself started with a basic kit made by Dakine and a Toko iron. I will say though that Racewax (www.racewax.com) has put together some solid kits with some good quality equipment are reasonable prices. These are really good options to look at no matter your skill level. Some kits come with irons and others don’t, and it’s an area you don’t want to skimp in my opinion, so if you are looking at an upgraded iron out of the gate, stick to kits without irons and purchase separately.
What is needed in a basic kit (excluding the iron):
Diamond stone (maintain edge sharpness)
Gummi stone (edge rust removal, detuning, and burr removal)
Brake retainer (if you are doing skis too)
Bag or case to keep everything in
Some optional items to consider from the start:
Edge Tool (for setting angles) – I don’t recommend the average joe messing with angles until you have some experience, this is a good place to pay someone until you do)
Vises (if doing skis too get the kind that have an attachment for snowboards)
Scraper sharpener (this will have to be bought separately, but is worth it to not have to constantly be buying new scrapers)
Sawhorse or waxing table (the tables can get really expensive though)
Now, on to the big ticket item:
Iron quality is, in my opinion, the primary things to look at in putting your kit together and no your mom’s old iron (yes, it does happen)., or the one you found at a thrift store do not work here.. This is going to be touching your base and going cheap on your iron is asking for trouble (see the photo for this blog to see what a cheap iron can do to the base of your board). Using the wrong kind or iron or a cheap iron is responsible for more tuning mistakes and damage than just about anything else. When looking at a tuning iron the two important features are:
Temperature control system
Overall thickness and shape of the plate
Plate Thickness equals the quality of an iron. A thicker plate will take longer to heat, but will hold a more consistent temperature, which allows the wax to melt more evenly and precisely than thinner plates.
The ability to adjust the iron’s temperature will also vary greatly with the quality of the iron. Irons are generally one of 3 types
Basic that simply have an on/off setting with the average temperature of around 125 degrees Celsius.
Adjustable dial to roughly adjust iron temperature, usually between 100 to 150 degrees Celsius. Most recreational tuners use a dial adjust iron for the temperature flexibility at a very reasonable price.
Digital Readout Adjustable irons are adjustable usually by 1 or 5 degree increments depending on how specific they need to be. Most five-degree adjustable irons work from 100 to 160 degrees Celsius while one-degree adjustable irons will go up to 180 degrees Celsius. Unless you are World Cup or Olympic racer the 5-degree adjustments should be fine for most racers
My primary iron is made by Toko. Their base model runs around $80, but I would advise moving up to the base digital model at a minimum, which runs around $170 (unless you are independently wealthy or racing at the Olympic level, you can probably avoid their top of the line $450 digital iron though). This is a good place to splurge if you have the money.
If you really want the digital, but the Toko cost is outside of your comfort range, you could consider RaceWax’s Digital Iron (RaceWax Digital Ski Wax Snowboard Waxing Iron 2020). At on $99 (it’s on sale right now for $68), it’s a great deal. For an iron in this price range, it’s got a great quality base and a digital readout. I have this iron as well.
I travel with the Toko, but the RaceWax iron is setup at home with the full tuning kit during the racing season. Having 2 irons makes traveling easier for me now, but I started with just 1 it was probably 3 years of doing our own waxing before we bought one to keep permanently setup at home during the snowboard season.
Over the next few months, I am going to spend some time adding more blogs to my site on similar topics. Use these and your own research to get moving on getting what you need and learning about things you need to know before the season starts to get ready to start taking care of your snowboards.
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Photo Credit: Lee Oh, this is her daughter's snowboard that had a mishap with a cheap iron, needless to say they were searching for a new snowboard the night before they were leaving for the 2019 USASA Nationals